Australia: Airlie Beach - where entertainment is provided by the nature

I cannot resist my urge to board a plane and go explore the country on my own. I've always dreamed to see the Great Barrier Reefs of Australia and I find myself in Airlie, a little coastal town where time has stopped between crazy backpacker party hostels, quiet beaches and white boats.

I book a little bungalow in a tropical rainforest resort, called Kipara, and as soon as I get there I meet at the balcony my neighbor Christopher, an Australian who will turn into my best partner in crime over the next days.

Wildlife encounters in front of my bungalow

In Australia you don't need to put too much effort in order to see the most horrifying animals. While local people are perfectly used to them, travelers like me are simply intimidated by how they live and walk all over the place. My first encounter is a gigantic brown frog, much larger than my hand. Technically, it would not harm me, but the sight of it in front of the bungalow is definitely not something I am prepared for.

One of the evenings, we meet a Dutch couple who is excitedly playing with a snake, wrapped on a stick. They are on a quest for animals photographs and are obviously very comfortable with snakes, which I notice by the snake creeping onto the lady's arm while she is calmly explaining how they found it in the nearby bushes (I am thankful it was not me to accidentally run into this innocent snake).

The wildlife in Kipara does not cease to amaze me. I hear from my friend that there are goannas in Kipara. Even though I am prepared (even anticipating) to spot it, my heart skips a beat when I actually see in front of my door something resembling a small dinosaur, looking for some food leftovers to eat.

Frog competitions...because why not

I figure that animals do play a special role in the field of entertainment in Australia, too. One of the evenings we go to one of the party hostels to see a frog competition. This basically means - 5-10 frogs are held under a cover, a guy shows each of them separately to the audience and leads an auction for who will offer the highest price for the frog (talking about hundreds of dollars here) and once the auction is over, the showman lets the frogs out and the furthest & fastest jumping frog ...wins the competition. People in the bar are actually betting like crazy...on a jumping frog. 

No photo material here, because...priorities.

Spinning wheels...because why not

I am introduced to some other local ways of entertainment, too. My friend asks me "Do you know what burnouts are?". In the modern professional worlds, we call "burnout" the state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress... Down under, in Australia, they call "burnout" the practice of keeping a vehicle stationary and spinning its wheels, causing the tires to heat up and smoke due to friction. Turns out that this is another unthinkable activity that young Aussies get involved in for the sake of fun and adrenaline - they actually buy cheap cars just to make burnouts with and then throw them away. If the police catches them doing it, the car is confiscated and demolished. And's one of the most popular activities, which I cannot quite make sense of until Christopher decides to demonstrate to me what "spinning wheels" mean...

No photo material here either, because...priorities. But those are the burnouts:

The Bush

Another way for Aussies to enjoy themselves is to hit "The Bush". In our conventional world "a bush" is a short-length plant in the park. In Australia "The Bush" is any wild or uncultivated country area (which we, conventional people, would call a forest or a jungle). So, we take a quest to catch the best sunset from the Bush. We climb a hill for a while until the Bush gets so thick that we cannot possibly go further without losing part of our skin. We settle on a fallen tree, equipped with a couple of roadies (to be explained) and wait for the sun to come down. While waiting I realize I have been attacked by some monstrous Aussie ants, who don't spare any part of my flesh and from whom I will get a severe allergic reaction and skin scars for a long time ahead. Nevertheless, the sacrifice is worth. "A stunning sunset from the Bush" - checked.

My own Australian dictionary

Australians have developed their own slang language, which is one of the cutest and most confusing parts of Australian English. During my days down under, I encounter first hand (i.e. the hard way - feeling stupid) some of this linguistic richness:

Straya = Australia
Aussie = Australian
Mossie = Mosquito
Coldie = Cold drink
Roadie = Beer to go
Bickie = Biscuit
Brekkie = Breakfast
Arvo = Afternoon
Avo = Avocado
Esky = Cooler
Barbie = Barbecue
Chrissy = Christmas

To be continued...

More about my coastal adventures in my next blog here - at the Coral Reefs :) 

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